Alcatel OneTouch 20.05 review

Pros

  • Distinctive design
  • Impressive keypad
  • Relatively good battery life

Cons

  • No 3G or Wi-Fi
  • Some apps need to be downloaded

French handset maker Alcatel is not ashamed to still be making feature phones, and the Alcatel OneTouch 20.05 is just that – a feature phone that takes an old fashioned candy bar form factor.

It’s obviously not going to be as crammed with facilities as a smartphone, but it’s not intended for the market that wants a smartphone. This is a handset for people who mostly like talking and texting, and don’t need much of what modern smartphones have to offer. The question is, as with all ultra-low cost and relatively low spec handsets, do you get enough value for money here?

There are two classic markets for a phone like this – young people and older people. I’m not saying that nobody in between wants a basic mobile, nor am I saying that all young and older people want one. I mean that there’s just enough folks in both categories to justify handset makers targeting them. Alcatel has gone young with the 20.05 and I can tell that by two features.

First off, the handset has Twitter and Facebook apps – though they have to be downloaded before you can use them. I’m going to assume that Twitter and Facebook via a candy bar mobile is more the domain of younger than older users, though of course that isn’t universally going to be the case. I’m also inferring a younger target audience because of the handset’s design.

Alcatel sent me a OneTouch 20.05 with a pink back and what a shocker it is. It looks like shiny pink nail varnish. There’s also a blue version, and both are available from O2 on Pay & Go for £22.49. The backplate colour is also used on the edges, and the bottom edge is angled so that the backplate colour is clearly visible. It’s quite a neat design and certainly distinctive.

There’s a chrome coloured frame to the front fascia and around the D-pad that sits beneath the screen, and also framing the back mounted camera, but the build is entirely plastic. You wouldn’t expect anything else at this price, would you?

There’s a fair amount of give in the chassis, and I wouldn’t expect this phone to last forever in the pocket or bag of a youngster, but then at this price that’s probably not too much of an issue.

The phone is a bit thick but it does scrape under 10mm – just at 9.95mm. It is extremely light at 85 grams. There is a big plus in that it has a very usable number pad. The keys are large, depress a long way and give off an audible click. Build quality might not be great, but texting speed ought to be fast.

Alcatel has gone absolutely minimal with side buttons – in fact there aren’t any. There’s a headset slot on the top and microUSB port on the right edge. A microSIM slot is on the left edge, covered by a hinged flap. The on/off switch is on the End button of the keypad area, and volume is controlled via the D-pad.

The screen is just 2.4in in size and its resolution is comparatively low at 320 x 240 pixels – but actually the screen looks quite sharp. I’d have liked more pixels, but not having them isn’t really a huge problem.

The screen isn’t touch-sensitive. You move around using the D-pad and left and right softmenu buttons. It’s all very old school, but usability is high with a Nokia Series 40 style widget bar on the main screen that you can populate with your own selection of apps. Getting into the main apps area is a single softmenu button press away, and once there you can reorder the shortcuts so that those you use most are on the first screen. It’s all wonderfully simple.

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And the fact that there’s only 1.2MB of user memory isn’t likely to be a big issue either. This is no Android or iPhone with a huge apps store to play around with. The thing you are most likely to want memory for is music and there’s microSD card support for that, and you can hotswap cards without removing the battery. You might also like to use the card to record from the built-in FM radio with RDS. The radio’s sound quality is not too awful through the handset’s speaker, incidentally.

But there are some very notable absences. There’s no mobile email – although this is probably just as well given the small screen. I kind of think the web browser is a waste too, as neither 3G or Wi-Fi is on board. Including the latter would have made a huge difference to the usability of this handset in general, and slow loading coupled with the cramped screen means browsing on the Alcatel 20.05 is strictly for emergencies only. Bluetooth is here so you could use this for data transfer if you really want to.

On the other hand, the relatively poor connectivity coupled with the small screen does mean the battery can get you through two days. This opens up another potential audience for this handset – anyone who is going away for a few days and wants a phone they don’t need to charge and could damage without worrying about it.

The 2-megapixel camera does a fair job for its type, and if all you want is a photo to use as the phone’s wallpaper then you are probably going to be okay. The range of apps on board is basic but runs to the usual kind of things you’d expect from a feature phone.

In addition to SMS support and some games (which like Twitter and Facebook require a download before you can get going), there’s an alarm, calculator, calendar, note taker, unit converter, call filter for setting up blacklist and whitelist numbers, and a fake call service. Yes, that old chestnut which allows you to set up a fake incoming call for a future time. It is all fairly modest stuff.

Verdict

Alcatel has done a neat job with the OneTouch 20.05. Its biggest bugbear is that it has neither 3G nor Wi-Fi, but if you can live without those its good battery life is a draw and the keyboard is easy to use at speed.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Alcatel OneTouch 20.05

Processor

260MHz

Network

GSM 850/900/1800/1900

Memory

1.2GB

Memory expansion

microSD

Display

2.4in, 320 x 240

Main camera

2-megapixel

Front camera

None

Wi-Fi

No

GPS

No

FM radio

Yes

Battery

850mAh

Size

120 x 50 x 9.95mm

Weight

85g

OS

Proprietary